Compatibility, cross-functionality, and cost-efficiency are all critical elements for any IT infrastructure plan. And while IT infrastructure has become so commoditized that it’s easy to find the cheapest prices for all the individual elements, it’s important to keep one question in mind: Will it all work together?
Despite the presence of open and industry standards, you’re unlikely to get the full functionality you need if you buy your infrastructure piecemeal. Fortunately, there’s a simple way to ensure that your solution is more than the sum of its parts—invest in converged infrastructure.
IT Convergence Explained
Also called “integrated systems” or “unified computing,” converged infrastructure is a single‑vendor offering that combines computing, storage, networking, switching, routing, VoIP, virtualization, and management as a single, optimized package. Because it’s designed to be modular, you can swap in and out the components you need without worrying about whether they’ll work together. Converged infrastructure is growing in popularity and looks set to expand to include adjacent IT services including replication, data protection, and more.
Converged infrastructure also simplifies management. By installing an integrated package with policy-driven management processes and reference architectures, IT resourcing and provisioning can be managed from a centralized portal.
That said, you’ll also be locked into using your chosen vendor’s products—if you want the freedom to pick and choose, and have the capacity to manage integration and optimization in house, then you might be better served by taking a “best of breed” approach.
Converged systems often have higher up-front costs, but you can still save on capex because you’re likely to need fewer components. You’ll also save on opex through simpler management, faster provisioning and scaling, and increased responsiveness.
Such a system provides a platform that can be used to deploy cloud computing solutions, either public or private. Converged infrastructure is similar to virtualization, but it operates at a much higher level of abstraction than most hypervisors offer. You can monitor your infrastructure’s demand and supply of resources, making it easy to manage and optimize usage.
It’s a compelling proposition, and the market agrees. Gartner estimates that sales of converged infrastructure grew more than 50 percent in 2014, reaching a value of around $6 billion globally. Now might be a very good time to investigate the benefits and decide whether converged infrastructure lies in your future.